German efficiency? Myth or not?

Posted on February 9, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

“Which is the most efficient country in the world? Surely it must be Germany? “ The Swedish comedian and radio host posed the rhetorical question and I could only protest. Not that I have any vast experience of Germans or Germany, nor due to the fact that my fiancé have been working for a German company. I cannot even build my protest on growing up with a German aunt who always thinks she is right.

No, right there and then when the comedians on the radio wanted me to praise Germany I based my protest on my recent stopover in Frankfurt. I was boiling with anger due to the less efficient staff at the airport. It was far too early in the morning and my patience was extremely short. What is it about the security check and the enormous amount of time it takes? “You are really slow!” I growled loudly and clearly when I was waiting for my stuff to be scanned.

Therefore I now feel a small extent of regret when reading that Volkswagen in Germany just before Christmas announced the introduction of e-mail restrictions for workers at six of their factories. The mails are delivered only to the employees’ smart phones during work hours plus a half hour before and half an hour after work. It is the unions who suggested this. But it does not include managers…

“Last night I got nothing done at home. I sat and answered e-mails to customers in Australia and what I wrote was – I cannot answer now, because I’m not in the office, but I will get back to you tomorrow. “ The blonde Danish participants have long since given up trying to make himself understood in Danish and speaks English to me. “And then I was frustrated all night that I could not make any statements until the next day. It would have been better not to know about it. The family was not exactly happy either … “

Nowadays, it’s not the technology that limits you, but your brain when trying to work in this constant flow of information. The new technology makes the boundaries between work and leisure unclear and loyal employees are tempted to check emails outside working hours as soon as the icon on the phone indicates that there is a new message. Statistics say that women check it more often than men …

This is now becoming so common that companies are creating their guidelines and policies. The Deutsche Telekom’s policy for smart phones says that employees do not have to answer the phone or reply on emails on their leisure time. And that managers cannot expect them to read emails when they are on holiday. A policy that regulates that you do not have to work when you are on holiday?

Obvious, you would think, but in the latest decade we have gone from being able to leave work at work to carry it in our pocket. What if it’s high time to take command of the technology and control the settings so you can relax on your free time?

Whether you’re German or not, efficient or inefficient, your brain needs time off. It is not dangerous to work a lot, but it is a health risk to rest too little.

After a few days with an assignment in Sweden near the World Rally Championship and hotel elevators full of all sorts of nationalities and colorful rally suits, it will be nice to get on the train home and disconnect, unplug and relax.

Wishing you an unplugged weekend

Petra Brask

“Der Mann, der lächelt, wenn Sachen falsch gehen, hatred than jemand gedacht, um es zu an tadeln”

(He who smiles when things go wrong has found someone to blame it on.)

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